Breaking the Cycle
By J.C. Vascardi
Seventeen-year-old Zaidan Prince looked around as he entered the Angel Grove Youth Center Gym and Juice Bar. From what he'd overheard at school, this was where most of the other people his age hung out when they weren't at school. Zaidan had never had many friends growing up, so, the thought of maybe forging a few friendships now was something that he wanted to try at least. Of course, he was the new kid in school, so, he wasn't sure if that was even possible. It had been his experience that a lot of people loved to pick on the new kid and never give them a chance. It was one of the reasons why Zaidan had moved around so much - he'd attended seven different high schools in three years - all because he just never seemed to be able to fit in. He hoped that it would be different here in Angel Grove.
Taking a seat at the bar, Zaidan picked up a menu and perused it for a moment before a heavyset man in a Hawaiian shirt asked, "You're new around here aren't you?"
Zaidan nodded. "Yes, today was my first day at AG High. My name is Zaidan Prince."
"Zaidan," the man repeated. "Interesting name. Unique. Anyway, I'm Ernie and I own this place - welcome to Angel Grove. Now, can I get you anything?"
Glancing at the menu again, Zaidan said, "A strawberry mango smoothie."
"Nice choice," Ernie said. "Anything else?"
"No, that should do for now."
"Okay then, one smoothie coming up," Ernie said with a smile, as he turned away and began making Zaidan's drink.
"Hey, new kid," said a voice. "You're in my seat."
"Yeah, you're in his seat," another voice piped in, as Zaidan turned around and saw who he'd learned at school were two of the school bullies, Bulk and Skull.
Raising an eyebrow, Zaidan said, "Really? Because I didn't see your name written on it."
"It looks like someone needs to be taught a lesson," Bulk said, as he puffed himself up and Zaidan couldn't help but think he looked like a blowfish.
"Yeah, teach him a lesson, Bulk," Skull said.
Zaidan rolled his eyes and said, "If you want to humiliate yourself, then, by all means, go right ahead and teach me a lesson."
"I warn you, I know karate," Bulk said, as he adopted a look that Zaidan assumed was supposed to be menacing. It didn't faze him though. The one advantage of attending seven different high schools in three years was that he'd dealt with more bullies than he could count on both hands.
"Oh, really, am I supposed to be scared?" Zaidan asked.
Instead of commenting, Bulk tried to use some very slow and clunky karate-like moves on Zaidan, which he easily dodged. It was quite clear that Bulk's so-called karate skills were nothing more than him trying to imitate others who were actually skilled in the art and in Zaidan's opinion, he was doing a very piss poor job of it. He highly doubted that Bulk ever had even ten minutes of formal training in his life.
"You call that karate?" Zaidan said. "Let me show you how it's really done."
Taking a few steps back, Zaidan launched into an impressive kata, moving so fast that Bulk and Skull started to get dizzy just watching him. Finishing his routine, Zaidan said, "Now, leave me alone, Bulk, Skull - you're so far out of your league it isn't even funny."
"Ah, yeah, we'll just be going now," Bulk said, before he hightailed it out of the room, with Skull following close behind.
Sitting back down on the stool he'd been sitting on before the two idiots showed up, Zaidan pulled some of his homework out of his backpack and started doing it while he waited for Ernie to finish making his drink. He didn't have to wait long, before Ernie placed it in front of him and said, "Here you are, Zaidan, enjoy. And good work with Bulk and Skull."
"Thanks," Zaidan said, as he grabbed the glass and took a sip. Smiling he said, "This is delicious. If all your other fare is as good as this, you've just gotten a new regular."
"Well, I try," Ernie said with a smile, before he went off to take another customer's order.
"That was a very impressive display," said another voice.
Turning to see the source of the voice, Zaidan was glad he had set his glass down or he was sure he would have dropped it in shock. For standing in front of him was what had to be one of the most gorgeous men he'd ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on. He felt himself getting hard almost instantly and quickly began to picture one of his new teachers, Ms. Applebee, naked in order to avoid embarrassing himself. He had, after all, picked out a pair of jeans that morning that, while they didn't interfere with his ability to pull off the kata he'd just done, would have left absolutely nothing to the imagination if he didn't reverse the course of his hardening member quickly.
Tall and nicely built, with short brown hair, the newcomer was wearing a pair of black jeans and a red sleeveless t-shirt that was so tight, Zaidan almost thought that the guy had just dyed his skin red. Not that he was complaining, as it gave him some of the best eye candy he'd ever had, but then, considering that they were in a public place, that wasn't necessarily a good thing. 'Calm down, Zaidan,' he thought, 'before you embarrass yourself. Yeah, he's hot, but if you want to make friends, you can't scare them all away by letting your hormones do the thinking for you.'
"Thanks," Zaidan said with a genuine smile.
"I'm Rocky," the man said. "You're new in school aren't you?"
"Yeah, today was my first day. I'm Zaidan."
"Zaidan - well, that's certainly an interesting name," Rocky said. "I don't think I've ever heard it before."
"Yeah, it is pretty unique," Zaidan agreed.
"My friends and I were wondering if you'd like to join us?" Rocky asked. "Most of us are into martial arts as well."
"Most?" Zaidan asked.
"Well, Kim is more into gymnastics," Rocky explained.
"Ah, that's cool," and then with a smile, Zaidan said, "Sure, why not? Just give me a minute to gather my stuff."
Rocky smiled and nodded, as Zaidan turned in his seat and gathered up his homework, which he quickly placed in his backpack. Grabbing his drink, Zaidan stood up and slung his backpack over his left shoulder and nodded to Rocky, who then led him over to a large table where several other people were sitting.
"Everyone this is Zaidan," Rocky said after he grabbed an extra chair from a nearby empty table for Zaidan before sitting back down. Zaidan was happy to see that he'd be sitting next to the brown-haired god of his dreams.
"You have some really good moves, Zaidan," a black-haired Korean boy, who was dressed from head to toe in black, said. "I'm Adam."
"I'm Kimberly," said the perky pink-clad girl that Zaidan was sure was a cheerleader. "But you can call me Kim."
"I'm Aisha," said the short, yellow wearing African-American girl.
"Billy," said the blond guy who was wearing glasses and dressed in blue.
"And I'm Tommy," said the long-haired guy clad in white.
"A pleasure to meet you all," Zaidan said with a smile. Looking down at his own stonewashed jeans and purple t-shirt, he grinned and said, "We've got practically every color of the rainbow here, don't we?"
The others all laughed and Rocky said, "Yeah, we're a colorful bunch, all right."
"So, Zaidan, you certainly seem to have a good grasp on martial arts," Adam said. "How long have you been studying them?"
Zaidan smiled. "Would you believe since I was four?"
"Wow," Rocky said. "I didn't start until I was eight."
"I was seven when I started," Tommy said. "Those moves you pulled off were pretty amazing though. Have you ever tried teaching?"
"Once or twice," Zaidan said. "Until recently, though, I tended to move around quite a bit and that made any kind of long-term teaching almost impossible."
"Where are some of the other places you've lived?" Billy asked.
"New York City, Boston, Miami, and St. Louis," Zaidan said. "Spent a few months in Silver Hills before moving to San Francisco and finally here."
"Why so many places?" Aisha asked. "Are you a military brat or something?"
"No, I'm all alone, actually," Zaidan answered. "My mother died when I was thirteen."
"I'm so sorry," Kim said. "What about your father?"
"He died before I was born," Zaidan answered, hoping that nobody would catch that he was actually lying through his teeth. Everything else he'd said was true, but his father, well, he really didn't want to go there and found it easiest to just pretend that he was dead. It wasn't always easy everything considered but Zaidan knew that his mother wouldn't want him to live in the past. If the opportunity presented itself to bring his father to justice, he'd take it, but until then, he was going to do his best to put the bad memories out of his mind.
"You didn't have any relatives that you could live with?" Tommy asked.
"No, none," Zaidan said. "That's actually why I was moving around so much. I didn't want to become a ward of the state, so, I never stayed in one place long enough for anyone who could call child protective services to find out that I didn't have parents. My mom left me with a sizeable inheritance, so, I could afford to take care of myself and I wanted it to stay that way."
"So, you're on the run?" Adam asked.
"No, not anymore," Zaidan replied. "Shortly after moving to Cali, I petitioned a judge for emancipation. Once the judge saw that my parents were dead and I was doing fine on my own, he granted my petition. The only difference between me and most other emancipated teens is that I don't need parental permission for anything. Most other teens in my place would still need it for certain things, like getting married before they turn eighteen. Not that I intend to do that, but I could if I wanted to."
"So you're legally an adult?" Rocky asked.
"Yeah, technically, I am," Zaidan said. "Although I'm still required to go to school. Not that I mind that though, because I've never had a problem with school. Which is a good thing, because having attended seven different high schools, my grades would probably have been abysmal if I wasn't a good student. As it was, I never had much of a problem catching up whenever I changed schools."
"Man, seven different high schools," Tommy said. "Must have been very hard to make friends."
Zaidan nodded and said, "Yeah, it wasn't easy. I think of all the cities I lived in though, New York and San Francisco were the worst, because the vast majority of my classmates had their own little groups and were not interested in trying to befriend the new guy. They just saw me as the outsider who wasn't worth their time."
"Well, maybe it's because they're bigger cities," Adam said, "but, Angel Grove is smaller and more tight-knit."
"Yeah, you seem like a cool guy," Rocky said, as he thought, 'Not to mention totally hot,' as he tried not to be obvious about checking out Zaidan's lean, muscular body, wavy blond hair, or boyish good looks. Rocky didn't usually think of purple as being a guy's color, but it suited Zaidan very well, perhaps because it brought out his eyes, which were violet-colored. 'I've never seen someone with violet eyes before, but, Zaidan certainly pulls it off well,' Rocky thought. 'Of course, I need to control myself, because he's more than likely straight and I don't stand a chance. Still, looking doesn't hurt, as long as I don't get caught.'
'They so have the hots for each other,' Kim thought as she looked at Zaidan and Rocky. 'Damn it. Why do all the cute guys have to be gay?' She still remembered when Tommy Oliver showed up in Angel Grove and how she was immediately smitten with him - the only problem was he preferred men, as evidenced by his now nearly four-month relationship with Adam. 'Still, he's a good friend,' Kim thought of Tommy, 'and I have to admit, him and Adam do make a cute couple.'
"Yeah, you'll find most people here are willing to make a new friend," Aisha said. "As Rocky said, you seem cool and those moves you showed off to Bulk and Skull were amazing. I want to get to know you better if only to learn them."
Zaidan smiled. "Well, I'd be happy to teach them to you," as he thought, 'I'm sure Sensei wouldn't mind. Thanks to dear old dad,' even in his thoughts, the moniker was said with quite a bit of venom and sarcasm, 'I'm the last person alive who is trained in the style he created.'
"Some of those moves didn't look like standard karate," Adam commented.
"Well, that's because some of them weren't," Zaidan said. "My Sensei created his own style which took elements from several other styles and blended them into a completely new one, while also adding in some unique elements all his own."
"What is the style called?" Tommy asked.
"He never did give it a name," Zaidan answered. "It was just his signature style that he created mostly for himself, although he did teach a few others, myself included. Sensei said my elder brother was about a year away from becoming a grand master."
"Elder brother?" Kim asked with a confused look. "I thought you said you didn't have any other family?"
"I don't," Zaidan said. "My brother was in the car with my mother and Sensei coming home from a tournament - none of them survived the accident." Okay, so, that wasn't how they really died, but explaining the truth would have meant revealing quite a bit more than what Zaidan was comfortable with at the present time. He could only hope that if the time did eventually come for him to tell these people the truth, they'd understand why he hadn't been honest. He hated lying, but, sometimes a lie is more believable than the truth and this was most definitely one of those times. 'I want to make friends, after all,' Zaidan thought. 'I tell them the truth and they'll probably think I'm certifiably insane and want nothing to do with me.'
Before anyone could say anything, Tommy's communicator beeped, drawing Zaidan's attention to the strange looking watch on the guy's wrist. This was followed up by the realization that all six of his new acquaintances were wearing an identical watch. 'Doesn't look like any watch I've ever seen, but, what else could it be?'
"I'm sorry to run out on you like this, Zaidan," Tommy said as he and his friends got up, "but we have to go. We have a previous engagement to get to - I set my watch to tell us when it was time to leave."
"No problem," Zaidan said, sensing that there was more to it than what Tommy was saying. Of course, he wasn't being totally honest with them, so, it only made sense that they wouldn't be totally honest with him either. After all, they had just met. It was hardly the time for a heart to heart in which they revealed all of their deepest secrets.
"I'm sorry about your loss," Rocky said, as he squeezed Zaidan's shoulder, glad to have been given an excuse to touch the boy.
Zaidan smiled. "Thanks Rocky, it's not your fault though, so you have nothing to apologize for. It's still hard sometimes, but, I'm getting over it. Anyway, you guys go and do what you have to do. If I'm not here when you get done, well, I'm sure we'll see each other at school tomorrow."
"Cool," Adam said with a smile, as he and the others left. Once they were gone, Zaidan ordered another smoothie, before he pulled his homework back out of his backpack and got to work.
Later that night, as Zaidan stripped out of his clothes and got into bed, he couldn't help but smile. All in all, it had been a good day. While the others hadn't gotten back before Zaidan decided to head home, he was confident that he could become friends with them. They all seemed cool and quite a bit more welcoming than any of his classmates at his previous schools. It seemed a bit odd to be thanking the school bullies for anything, but, in this case, Zaidan couldn't help it. If it hadn't been for his little demonstration to Bulk and Skull, he wasn't sure the others would have noticed him. Well, that probably wasn't true, as Zaidan found out that the juice bar often held tournaments that he most likely would have entered, so, it may have taken longer, but he was glad it had happened sooner rather than later.
The next morning, Zaidan woke up and while a part of him scolded himself for doing it, he jacked off to thoughts of Rocky in the shower. The other boy was really the perfect example of what Zaidan considered his dream man - at least outwardly. He didn't really know Rocky well enough to know if the boy's personality also fit his perception of the perfect man. 'Damn it, Z, will you listen to yourself?' he thought as he walked into his bedroom and pulled on a pair of black and gray striped bikini briefs, 'You don't even know if Rocky likes men. If he doesn't that would certainly be a big point against him being your dream man.'
Sitting down on the bed, Zaidan pulled on a pair of black socks, followed by a pair of black jeans, before standing up and walking over to his closet. Scanning the contents of his closet, he thought, 'I really should go shopping and buy some more clothes that aren't purple. It might be my favorite color, but that doesn't mean I have to wear it exclusively.'
Grabbing a white t-shirt from his closet, Zaidan pulled it on and despite his previous thoughts, he then chose a purple button down shirt which he pulled on over the t-shirt, leaving it unbuttoned and rolling up the sleeves. Checking himself out in the mirror to make sure his hair looked okay, Zaidan then headed into the kitchen to have some breakfast. It was then that he noticed the light on the answering machine blinking to signal that someone had called. He didn't get many phone calls, as a general rule, so he didn't often check the machine.
Pressing the play button as he got out a bowl for cereal, Zaidan listened as the machine said, "You have one new message," before a male voice said, "Mr. Prince this is John Taylor from Taylor and Evans in New York. I need to speak to you regarding your late mother's accounts, in person, as soon as possible. Please call my office as soon as you get this message - I'll be in the office until 10, otherwise, I'll be in from 9 to 5 tomorrow."
Taylor and Evans was a trust company in New York where all of his mother's assets were held. They also managed a vault which contained some expensive family heirlooms that she had managed to secret away from his greedy bastard of a father who would have taken them all for himself and left his mother with nothing. Looking at the clock, Zaidan saw that it was only 6:30 in the morning in Angel Grove, but with the four hour time difference, it was 10:30 in New York. Pulling out his wallet, Zaidan took out the business card with John's private line on it and picked up the phone.
It was answered on the third ring. "John Taylor."
"Mr. Taylor, this is Zaidan Prince. I just got your message."
"Ah Mr. Prince, thank you for calling," John said and Zaidan could hear papers shuffling in the background, before John said, "I have in front of me a judge's order saying that you've been emancipated in California, is that correct?"
"Yes, as of three months ago," Zaidan answered.
"You should have contacted me, Mr. Prince," John said. "Since your mother is dead and you're the only heir who is now legally an adult, I need you to come in and sign some papers to transfer some of the accounts into your name. The majority will still be in trust, but a sizeable chunk will now be in your name."
"Well, obviously I have school," Zaidan said. "So, this weekend would be the earliest I could get there."
"We're not normally open for business on Saturdays and Sundays," John said, "however, due to the size of your mother's accounts, I can make an exception."
"Okay, well, can I get back to you later today?" Zaidan asked. "It's only 6:30 in the morning here and I need to eat breakfast and then get to school. I don't really have time right now to make flight and hotel arrangements."
"I can have my secretary make them for you, Mr. Prince," John said. "And then she can call and leave the information on your machine for you."
"That would be great, Mr. Taylor, thanks," Zaidan said.
"Not a problem," John said. "Have a good day at school and I'll see you on Saturday."
"Okay, thanks, Mr. Taylor," Zaidan said as he hung up and resumed making himself a bowl of cereal. Pouring himself a glass of apple juice, Zaidan then sat down at the kitchen table and ate his breakfast.
'So, my mother's assets are going to be in my name now?' he thought. 'I suppose it's time I have a look in the vault and see exactly what mom managed to save. She never did tell me what exactly was in the vault, just that it would be managed by Taylor and Evans.'
Finishing his breakfast, Zaidan stood and rinsed his dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. Making sure he had everything he needed, he then grabbed his backpack and headed out to the garage. Grabbing his helmet, Zaidan put it on before getting on his motorcycle, a Ducati Monster 900. Within minutes, he was on his way to school. Pulling into the student parking lot, Zaidan parked in a spot next to the fence and chained his cycle to it, which was a precaution he'd started taking ever since it was almost stolen in San Francisco.
Luckily for him, he'd parked on the edge of the student lot that adjoined with the staff lot that day and had arrived at the school at the same time as one of the campus police officers, who was a motorcycle aficionado, resulting in the two of them talking about Zaidan's bike for five minutes. Thus when the officer went on his lunch break and headed out to his car to go and get something to eat, he knew something was wrong when he caught someone who wasn't Zaidan trying to push the motorcycle up a ramp into the back of an unmarked, windowless van. The would-be thief soon found himself headed to jail for attempted robbery and it was later found out that he'd stolen numerous other motorcycles all over town, selling the parts to chop shops in order to support his crystal meth addiction.
Focused on securing his bike, he didn't pay much attention to the Jeep that pulled into the spot next to him, until a familiar voice said, "Hey Zaidan, nice bike."
Looking up, Zaidan smiled as Rocky, Adam, and Tommy climbed out of the Jeep. "Thanks, Rocky."
"Afraid someone's going to steal it?" Adam asked, as Zaidan finished securing his bike.
"It wouldn't be the first time," Zaidan said, before he explained to the three teens how it had almost been stolen in San Francisco. "So, ever since then, I don't take any chances and keep it chained when it's going to be out in the open for a long period. I also had an alarm installed and have special locks on the wheels so that it can only be driven in circles."
Tommy nodded. "Well, I don't blame you for being cautious. That would have sucked to have it stolen from the school parking lot."
"Yeah, good thing that campus officer was around," Rocky said. "We have a couple of security guards here, but, Angel Grove is too small I guess to have uniformed campus police."
"Tommy and I teach a martial arts class at the youth center," Adam said, as the four of them headed towards the building. "We'd love to have you as a guest teacher at our next class, Zaidan."
"I'd love to," Zaidan said with a smile. "When is it?"
"The next class is on Saturday," Tommy answered.
Zaidan's smile fell, as he said, "Oh, well, in that case I can't make it. I have to fly to New York on Saturday to sign some papers at the trust company that manages my mother's assets. If it was any other day, I'd gladly do it."
"That's cool, we understand," Adam said. "We also have a class on Sunday afternoon."
"Well, I might be able to make that one," Zaidan said. "I'm not sure yet. The secretary of my mother's account manager is making my flight and hotel reservations for me and is going to leave a message on my machine at home about the details. With school on Monday, I'm sure I'll be back in time, but I don't want to commit to anything until I know for sure."
Tommy nodded, as he pulled a notebook out of his backpack, along with a pen, and wrote down both his and Adam's phone numbers. Tearing the page out and handing it to Zaidan, he said, "Well, here's Adam's and my numbers. Just call and let us know. The Sunday class is at 2:30pm."
"Okay, will do," Zaidan said.
At this point, Adam and Tommy said their goodbyes and headed over to talk to Billy, while Rocky stayed with Zaidan. After a moment of silence, Rocky asked, "You need a ride to the airport on Saturday?"
"I figured I'd just take my car and store it in the lot for the day," Zaidan answered.
"You have a car, too?" Rocky asked.
Zaidan smiled and nodded. "Yeah, as I said, my mom left me with a sizeable inheritance and the trust company has done a good job in managing it, so, it's grown since she passed away."
"What kind of car?"
"A Jaguar XK8 convertible," Zaidan replied. "I figured, you only live once, if you've got it, spend it."
"Nice," Rocky said. "Aren't you worried about running out of money though?"
"No," Zaidan said. "The majority of my mother's assets are held in a trust that I can't touch until I'm 30. The papers I have to go sign will be putting a sizeable amount of it into my name, but, not all of it."
"So, how much are you actually worth?"
"All told, about 35 million," Zaidan responded. "That's in cash. It might be more, but I don't know. The trust company also manages a vault that my mother stashed some family heirlooms in, but she never told me what was in it, so I have no clue what's in it or what the value might be."
"Wow," Rocky said. "Why are you going to public school if you're so wealthy?"
" I tried attending an exclusive prep school while I lived in Silver Hills," Zaidan said. "Really didn't like it though. For the most part, all the rich kids got on my nerves. While I do have money and I like having nice things, I don't really enjoy bragging about how much money I have which is basically what all my classmates at the prep school wanted to do day in and day out. If the conversation didn't relate to the size of their bank accounts, they weren't interested."
"If you want," Rocky said, "I can drive you to the airport and pick you up. Then you wouldn't have to leave your car in the airport lot over night, as I assume you're going to be there overnight since you mentioned hotel accommodations."
"Well, I usually don't like parking my car outside overnight," Zaidan said. "But I don't want to inconvenience you, Rocky."
"It's fine, Zaidan," Rocky said. "I wouldn't have offered if it was going to inconvenience me too much. I'm not really doing anything this weekend, so, it's not a problem."
"In that case, sure, you can drive me to the airport. Thanks, Rocky, I really appreciate it."
"No problem," Rocky said. Of course, he had ulterior motives. Angel Grove wasn't big enough to have its own international airport, so, that meant the closest one was LAX - which was an hour and a half drive down the coast. Spending that time alone with Zaidan in the car would give them both time to get to know each other better and Rocky was really looking forward to it.
After school, Zaidan met up with Tommy, Adam, Billy, Rocky, Kimberly, and Aisha on the way out to the school parking lot.
"So, Zaidan, do you want to join us at the youth center?" Aisha asked.
"I can't," Zaidan answered. "I have to get home, check my answering machine and pack a bag. I need to fly to New York on Saturday to sign some papers at the trust company that manages my mother's accounts. The account manager's secretary is making my flight and hotel reservations, hence checking my machine."
"Oh, okay," Aisha said. "Some other time perhaps."
As they reached the parking lot and Zaidan began unchaining his bike, he looked up and asked, "Hey, why don't you guys come over to my house? It shouldn't take long for me to pack, I'm only going overnight. Then we could enjoy my pool or shoot some hoops."
"That sounds fun," Kimberly said. "I'd just have to go home and get my suit."
The others nodded that they'd all have to do that as well and Zaidan said, "Okay, well, my address is 1987 Ocean View Terrace."
"Ocean View Terrace?" Billy asked. "That's in the affluent section of the city."
"Zaidan here is rich," Rocky said with a grin. "We're talking millionaire - several times over."
"Well, my mother was rich," Zaidan clarified. "The majority of the money is held in trust until I turn 30, but I have enough that I can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle."
"Comfortable?" Adam asked. "I've seen the houses on Ocean View Terrace. Luxurious would be the better term."
Zaidan shrugged and said, "Well, the invitations there if you want. I'd like to get to know you all better and I figure we can do that better at my place. Less crowded. Plus, since I live in a gated community that has a guard on duty twenty-four seven, we don't have to worry about the peanut gallery showing up."
"Peanut gallery?" Tommy asked, with a raised eyebrow.
"Bulk and Skull," Zaidan clarified.
Everyone laughed at that, as Rocky said, "Well, I'm in."
"Sounds like fun," Adam agreed. "Tommy and I will be there."
"We're in," Aisha and Kimberly said in unison.
"Billy?" Zaidan asked.
The blond-haired teen remained silent for a moment, until finally Tommy clapped him on the back and said, "Come on, Billy, it'll be fun. I know you miss Jase, but he wouldn't want you to mope around and have no fun just because he isn't here."
"Jase?" Zaidan asked, unfamiliar with the name.
"Jason Scott," Adam clarified. "He's Billy's boyfriend, but he and two of our other friends, Zack and Trini, left for Geneva, Switzerland three weeks ago. They were chosen to represent Angel Grove at the International Teen Peace Summit."
"Oh, that's cool," Zaidan said. "Come on, Billy. If my pool doesn't sound like fun, then maybe you'd enjoy my computer? It's a state of the art system that I think I can safely guarantee surpasses anything you've ever seen before."
"That does sound intriguing," Billy said. "Okay, count me in."
"Just don't spend all of your time messing around with Zaidan's computer," Adam said. "Go home and get your swimming trunks, because you are going to swim even if I have to push you into the pool."
"I'd suggest you do as he says, Bill," Tommy said. "He'll push you in whether you're wearing your trunks or not, but I think I can safely say you'd prefer to be wearing trunks in the pool."
"Affirmative," Billy said.
"Cool," Zaidan said, as he finished unlocking his bike and putting the chain and wheel locks in his backpack. "I'll just leave your names with the gate guard and he'll let you all in as my guests. See you soon." Pulling on his helmet, Zaidan sat astride his bike and after waving goodbye to his five companions, revved his engine for a moment before backing out of the parking spot he was in and tearing out of the lot.
Half-an-hour later, Zaidan had finished packing his overnight bag for his trip to New York. John Taylor's secretary booked him a first-class ticket on a direct flight from LAX to JFK, leaving at 10:30 on Saturday morning and arriving in New York at roughly 3:30 that afternoon. She informed him that a limousine would be waiting to take him to The Waldorf Towers where he'd been booked, much to his complete and utter shock, in the Royal Suite. John was going to come at five o'clock, giving Zaidan roughly an hour to freshen up and rest from his flight, before eating dinner with John in the suite's dining room and then signing the necessary papers.
Once that was done, John would leave and Zaidan was free to do whatever he wanted for the rest of the night. His return flight was scheduled to leave JFK at 8:45 on Sunday morning and arrive at LAX at roughly 1:45 in the afternoon. Given the hour and a half drive between Los Angeles and Angel Grove, Zaidan realized with some disappointment that he was unlikely to arrive back in time to act as guest teacher for Tommy and Adam's class. 'Oh well,' he thought. 'There'll be other classes.'
Heading into the kitchen, Zaidan opened the refrigerator and made sure there was a good selection of cold drinks available, before putting together a couple of simple snacks that he and the others could munch on if they got hungry. He had just finished with his task when the doorbell rang.
"Hey guys," Zaidan said with a smile as he opened the front door to admit Tommy, Adam, Billy, and Rocky. "Welcome to my humble abode."
"Humble?" Tommy asked with a raised eyebrow. "Zaidan, there is nothing humble about this place."
"Yeah, you have four garages for pity sake," Adam said as he shook his head.
"True," Zaidan said. The house was a two-story taupe Mediterranean-styled house with white accents. There were two separate two-car attached garages, one on each side of the house, roughly twenty feet from the front door. "I only use one of the bays, though, as my bike and car fit in one. I actually planned on getting something smaller originally, but this was the only property available in this community. I liked the security of a gated community with a guard on duty 24/7, so, I splurged a bit."
"Well, you have amazing taste," Rocky said. "How big is this place?"
"About 6,700 square feet," Zaidan answered. "Five bedrooms and five and a half baths, plus a media/game room upstairs."
"Is that an elevator?" Billy asked, as he noticed what looked like an elevator door near the stairs to the second floor.
"Yeah, it is," Zaidan confirmed. "I don't use it much, but I suppose it'd be nice if one had a particularly tiring day and didn't feel like climbing the stairs. Of course, in the week that I've lived here, I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually gone upstairs. The master suite is on the first floor, along with the study where I setup my computer and there's a TV in both the family room and my bedroom. The house came fully furnished, so, it's not empty upstairs, just unused."
"So, did you get that message you were waiting for?" Adam asked, as Zaidan led the group towards the kitchen.
"Yeah, I did," Zaidan said. "Unfortunately, I won't be getting back to LAX until a quarter to two on Sunday, so, I doubt I'll be able to get back in time for your class."
"That's okay," Tommy said. "We teach two on Saturdays, one on Sunday, and one on Wednesdays after school, so, you'll have other chances."
"Cool," Zaidan said. "So, where are the girls?"
As if that was their cue, the doorbell chose that moment to ring, as Adam said, "At the door, I imagine. I'll get it," before he left the room, only to come back a moment later with Kim and Aisha in tow, both of whom had looks of awe plastered on their faces.
"Damn, Zaidan," Kim said. "I know Rocky said you were a millionaire, but this place is fantastic."
"Thanks," Zaidan said with a smile. "I didn't decorate it though. As I told the guys, the house came fully furnished. I just added a few small personal touches here and there, mainly a few family photographs and, of course, my clothes."
"Considering that you have four garages and what looks like a marble floor in your dining room," Aisha said, "I hope you have good closet space."
Kim nodded and added, "Yes, a person can never have enough closet space. I wish I had more, because my closet is full to bursting."
"I think I have enough," Zaidan said with a grin. "The master bedroom has two walk-in-closets. Plus, three of the other four bedrooms have walk-ins, as well. Of course, the ones in the master suite are the largest."
"And how many of them are you using?" Kim asked, sure Zaidan would probably only say one, because he was a man.
"Both in the master," Zaidan answered. "The smaller of the two is for my shoes, which, I admit it, are my Achilles' heel."
"How many pairs do you have?" Billy asked.
"Last time I counted? Three-hundred and twenty-seven." Zaidan smiled then and added, "Obviously, I need to buy more because I don't have enough for a whole year yet." He did have enough for a year at one time, but that was before his mother died and he moved to New York.
"Three-hundred and twenty-seven?" Tommy repeated, shaking his head. "No way."
Zaidan just grinned. "Shall I prove it? I can take y'all on a quick tour of the house and you can see for yourselves. It's not like the pool is going anywhere. Besides, then you'll know where the bathrooms are, in case you need to use one."
"Seems like a good idea," Rocky said. "Lead on, Zaidan."
After giving everyone a tour of the house, everyone split up to change into their swimsuits in privacy. With five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths, finding privacy was certainly not a problem. Standing in his closet, Zaidan went through the swimsuits he had, finally settling on a baggy pair of purple board shorts. Much like how he tended to wear bikini underwear, Zaidan usually wore Speedos in his pool. However, with Rocky around, not to mention Tommy, Adam, and Billy who were not ugly by any means, he didn't want to be wearing a swimsuit that would make his condition painfully obvious if he got hard. True, he could claim it was from seeing Kim or Aisha in a swimsuit, but, why take any chances?
After all, he didn't know what they all thought on the subject of homosexuality. He knew that Billy was probably okay with it, because when they'd mentioned their friend Jason Scott earlier, Adam had said he was Billy's boyfriend. The others didn't seem to have a problem with that fact, but if there's one thing Zaidan learned over the years it was that looks can be deceiving. Just because something appears to be true, doesn't mean that it is.
'Better to be safe than sorry,' Zaidan thought as he undressed and pulled on the shorts. They were the perfect choice in Zaidan's mind. Not too loose that he'd have to worry about them falling off in the pool, but also not tight enough that a hard on would be immediately noticeable. Once he was changed, Zaidan headed back to the family room and opened the sliding glass door out onto the patio. The realtor had called it a lanai, although honestly, Zaidan didn't really see that it made any difference what he called it, as the two words meant essentially the same thing as far as he was concerned.
Walking over to the linen closet, Zaidan grabbed an armful of towels, before going outside and placing them on one of the tables. He was just turning on the hot tub jets in case anyone wanted to use it, when Tommy, Adam, and Kim came out of the house. Like Zaidan, both Adam and Tommy chose to wear board shorts, in black and white respectively, while Kim was wearing a pink two-piece bikini.
'Hmm, they sure do seem to be attached to these colors,' Zaidan thought, before laughing to himself and thinking, 'You're one to talk, Mr. Wearing Purple Yet Again.'
A moment later, Billy, Aisha, and Rocky emerged from inside the house. Billy's trunks were blue with what looked like white algebraic equations written on them. From everything he'd seen of Billy so far, it didn't really shock Zaidan at all, as it just seemed to fit the blond's personality. Aisha was wearing a one piece bathing suit with a tropical flower design and Zaidan noticed without much surprise that yellow was the dominant color.
At last, however, Zaidan's eyes fell on Rocky and he was immediately glad that he had chosen not to wear his normal bikini-style Speedos, because that is exactly what Rocky had chosen to wear. Being covered only by the small amount of red fabric, Zaidan got his first really good look at Rocky's body. He'd seen his arms well at the Youth Center the day they met and his shirt had been tight enough that he could make out the six-pack underneath. But, seeing it covered by a shirt and seeing it uncovered in all its muscular glory were two entirely different things.
Not wanting to embarrass himself, Zaidan tore his eyes off of Rocky, hoping that he hadn't been too obvious in checking the red-clad man out and turned his attention to everyone.
"Well, towels are over there," Zaidan said as he pointed. "Other than that, make yourselves at home."
Everyone nodded, as Tommy, Adam, and Rocky immediately got into the pool, while Billy and the girls sat down on chaise lounges and began putting on water-proof sunscreen. Since he'd never gotten sunburn in his life, Zaidan didn't bother with sunscreen and decided to join Tommy, Adam, and the hunk of his dreams in the pool. The four teens were soon swimming, splashing each other, and occasionally pushing each other under the water for a couple seconds. Basically, they were all having the time of their lives.
Billy joined them in the pool a few minutes later. There was a time when he completely avoided swimming, due to his problems with ichthyophobia, or fear of fish. However, ever since the fish monster that Rita sent down after learning of his fear, Billy had been getting over it and now enjoyed swimming. Dating Jason certainly helped, because the former red ranger, as an avid scuba diver, was extremely comfortable in the water.
Noticing for the first time that Billy wasn't wearing his glasses, Zaidan smiled as he swam up next to him and said, "Hey Billy. The no glasses look suits you."
"Thanks," Billy said. "I'm wearing contact lenses."
Zaidan nodded. "I kind of figured that. Glasses would be rough in the pool. Would be pretty hard to see through them with all the beads of water on the lenses."
"Affirmative," Billy agreed.
"Maybe later I'll show you my computer as I promised," Zaidan said. "It's a new state-of-the-art model from Dell. It hasn't even been released to the public yet, and won't be for a couple more months."
"Ah, so that's why you guaranteed I'd never seen anything like it," Billy said. "How did you get it though, if it hasn't been released yet?"
"Among my mother's various assets are some shares in Dell," Zaidan said. "So, as a shareholder, getting one before the public release was pretty easy. All in all it's a good system, it certainly suits all of my needs and I think it will do well when it's released."
"Well, I look forward to checking it out," Billy said. He'd never worked on a computer that hadn't been released to the public yet, so, it promised to be an interesting experience.
"Yo guys, heads up," Rocky said, before sending a small wave of water in Billy and Zaidan's direction. It didn't affect Zaidan's already wet hair much, but Billy's previously dry hair was now plastered to his forehead.
"We going to let him get away with that, Billy?" Zaidan asked.
"Negative," Billy said, before he splashed Rocky in the face as Zaidan went underwater, swam over and grabbed Rocky's feet as he pulled him under for a few seconds. If doing this gave Zaidan a chance to ogle Rocky's muscular legs and butt for a few seconds, well, all the better.
Half-an-hour later, Kim and Aisha, who had been sunbathing on a pair of the chaise lounges, moved into the hot tub, and Tommy, Rocky, Billy and Adam got out of the pool and dried off a bit before relaxing at the bar in the covered section of the patio.
Drying his hair and body so he wasn't dripping wet, Zaidan said, "Okay, well, Billy why don't you come inside and I'll show you my computer? I'll also grab some cold drinks for everyone and bring them out."
Billy nodded, as the others thanked Zaidan for the offer of cold drinks. Walking into the kitchen, Zaidan asked, "You want anything, Bill?"
"Water is fine," Billy answered.
Nodding, Zaidan opened the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of Evian which he tossed to Billy, who caught it without much difficulty. He then led Billy into the study and turned on the computer, allowing Billy to sit down in the chair in front of it. "The password for the guest account is guest, so have fun." Grinning, he added, "You seem knowledgeable enough, so I think I can trust you not to make the thing explode if I leave you alone with it."
Billy laughed. "I promise it won't explode."
"Cool," Zaidan said, before he went back to the kitchen and grabbed a tray from on top of the refrigerator, before opening it and grabbing a couple more bottles of Evian, as well as a couple of bottles of juice and cans of soda. He also placed some of the snacks he'd prepared on the tray in case anyone was hungry before heading back outside.
When he arrived back outside, it was to see a sight that surprised him. Tommy and Adam were sitting at his bar making out with each other. Zaidan could tell from their actions around each other that they were good friends, though he certainly hadn't picked up on the fact that they were more than that. Coming over and placing the tray on the bar, Zaidan cleared his throat and said, "Well, here's the drinks and a few snacks."
Tommy and Adam looked at Zaidan, obviously a bit tense from the looks on their faces, as Tommy asked, "Um, Zaidan, you don't have a problem with Adam and I being a couple, do you?"
Zaidan smiled and said, "Nah, I don't have a problem with it, guys. As long as you're happy, that's all that matters to me." At this Tommy and Adam let out breaths they didn't even realize they'd been holding and Zaidan added, "Besides I'd be a royal hypocrite if I had a problem with it."
"What do you mean?" Adam asked. He had a feeling he knew what Zaidan meant, but he wanted to hear the confirmation.
"I'm gay," Zaidan said. "So, it would be wrong of me to have a problem with you two being together because you're both guys, when I'm a guy and want to be with one myself."
'He's gay!' Rocky thought. 'Oh God, I might actually stand a chance with him. Yes!'
"That's cool," Tommy said. "I'm gay, too."
"I'm bisexual," Adam said. "Although, I do tend to prefer guys."
Zaidan nodded, as Tommy said, "I imagine you already know that Billy is gay, if you heard Adam commenting that our friend Jason was his boyfriend."
"Yeah I heard Adam's comment and I assumed Billy was," Zaidan said.
"We're both straight," Kim and Aisha said in unison, as they joined the boys. They both sat down, as Kim grabbed a bottle of water and Aisha grabbed a bottle of fruit punch.
"Jason is bisexual, too," Adam said. "He says he prefers girls and I'm told he dated Kim here for a couple of months, but, he's been with Billy for a little over a year now."
"Interesting," Zaidan said. "And what about you, Rocky?" as he thought, 'Oh please don't be straight.'
Rocky smiled and said, "I'm gay," and then after a moment's pause, he added, "and single."
Tommy, Adam, Kim, and Aisha all laughed, as Rocky asked, "What?"
Aisha was the first to recover, saying, "Oh Rocky, could you be any more obvious?"
Confused, Rocky asked, "What do you mean?"
Shaking her head, Kim said, "We've all seen you checking Zaidan out when you didn't think anybody was looking, Rocky."
At this Rocky blushed and Zaidan grinned, thinking, 'So, he's gay and interested in me. I think I've officially died and gone to heaven.'
Spluttering, Rocky said, "I wasn't checking him out," but it was obvious to anyone that it was a weak denial, meaning that he was and he was only trying to cover his butt after he realized he'd gotten caught.
Taking pity on Rocky, Zaidan grinned and said, "It's okay if you've been checking me out, you know, Rocky. Seriously I don't mind, cause I've been doing the same to you, actually."
Rocky's head turned to Zaidan so fast that everyone was momentarily afraid he'd get whiplash, as he just stared at the blond for a moment, before he said, "You have?"
"Yeah, I have," Zaidan confirmed. "I think you're probably just about the sexiest guy I've ever seen in my life."
Rocky blushed, as Tommy and Adam looked offended and Tommy asked, "And what are we? Chopped liver?"
Zaidan smiled and shook his head. "No, you guys are sexy, too, but Rocky is more my type." After a moment, he added, "Besides, you two are together, so unless you're into threesomes, it wouldn't work out."
Kim looked at Aisha, groaned and asked, "Why do all the cute guys have to be gay?"
Aisha shook her head. "I don't know, but, girl you got to admit. Tommy and Adam look good together."
"True, they do," Kim agreed, before grinning wickedly at them. "If they ever decide to sell tickets to watch them in bed, I'd buy in a second."
"Oh I'm so with you there, girl," Aisha said with an equally wicked grin, as she gave Kim a high five.
Grinning, Zaidan couldn't help himself as he said, "I'd definitely buy a few of those myself."
"Me too," Rocky said, as he grabbed a can of root beer from the tray and popped the top. "Adam might be my oldest and best friend, but that'd be so hot."
"Hey, hey," Tommy, who was blushing like crazy, said, "nobody is selling tickets to watch me in bed with Adam. That's private," as Adam nodded his head in agreement.
"Oh isn't that cute?" Kim asked in a sweet voice like one would use when looking at a puppy. "They even blush the same color."
"Shut up," Adam and Tommy said in unison, as everyone else laughed.
On Saturday morning, Rocky arrived as promised to drive Zaidan to the airport. Following Zaidan into his bedroom, as he made one final sweep to make sure he had everything he needed, Rocky looked around. On the nightstand next to Zaidan's bed was a picture which prompted Rocky to ask, "Who's the hot guy?"
"You mean other than you?" Zaidan asked with a grin.
Rocky blushed and smiled. "Thanks, though I meant the guy in the picture on your nightstand."
"Oh, that's my older brother," Zaidan said, his tone suddenly a bit sad.
Cocking his head to one side, Rocky asked, "You keep a picture of your brother in only his underwear on your nightstand?"
"Yeah, I know that seems weird," Zaidan said. "We were very close though and that's the only picture I have left of him. All the others were destroyed in a fire about a week or so after he died."
"Man, that sucks," Rocky said. "What was his name?"
"Kaidan Callum Prince," Zaidan answered. "Everyone called him Callum or Cal though."
"Huh, your names rhyme," Rocky said.
Zaidan grinned. "Yeah, our mom thought that would be cute. My middle name is Willum, so, it wasn't just our first names that rhymed."
"How old was he?"
"He was 22 when he died," Zaidan replied. "21 when that picture was taken. It was taken shortly after my twelfth birthday. Mom got me a camera and of course I wanted to try it out, so I was going through a photograph everything in sight stage and that ended up including that picture of Callum. I caught him getting ready to take a shower after a practice session with sensei, so that's why he's in his underwear."
"And he wasn't mad at you?" Rocky asked. "I mean it looks like he posed for you, but..." He wasn't sure he could picture a guy being willing to pose for a picture in only his underwear, taken by their twelve-year-old brother.
"Nah, as I said, we were very close," Zaidan said. "We had almost everything in common, including a love for the martial arts. So, we did practically everything together and even dressed like twins most of the time. Mom even once commented that she thought she somehow only had one son in two bodies. She had been worried about our age difference, at first, but as we got older, she realized she had no reason to be."
"I hope talking about him doesn't make you sad," Rocky said, in a concerned tone, knowing that Zaidan might not like talking about his late brother.
"It's okay, Rocky," Zaidan assured. "It's natural you'd be curious and I like talking about him," and here Zaidan couldn't help getting a little teary-eyed, as much as he might not have wanted to, as he added, "I just wish he was still around, ya know?"
"Yeah, I can understand that," Rocky said as he pulled Zaidan into a hug and rubbed his back in a light way that he hoped would be soothing.
To be continued.